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Seven jaw-dropping sights you wouldn’t believe were in Britain

From secret islands and sheltered, sandy coves to one-of-a-kind museums and gloriously deserted gardens, the UK is full of hidden gems

April 2020

By Siobhan Grogan

If you're looking for unique, unexpected sights to explore on holiday, a UK-based getaway probably isn't the first thing that springs to mind. But the British Isles are actually full of incredible, uncommon things to see and do, if you know where to look. All you need is this handy guide to seven of the most unique places to visit in the British Isles, all easily reached during a Princess cruise...

1. Still waters: St Mary’s Loch

A view over St Marys Loch in Scotland

Getty Images

Keep your cameras ready when visiting the astonishingly beautiful St. Mary’s Loch in the Scottish borders, an hour south of the Edinburgh port. Rumoured to be the coldest loch in Scotland, the vast body of water stretches for 5km and is the ideal place to escape from it all and enjoy a long refreshing walk with your nearest and dearest. If you're lucky enough to visit on a still day the loch gleams like glass, reflecting the clouds above and the rolling hills all around. When you’ve had your fill of fresh air, aim for the charming Tibbie Shiels Inn for some well-earned pub grub.

2. Fairytale castle: Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle and grounds

Pixabay/Pexels

Less than an hour’s drive from the port of Invergordon, the stately Dunrobin Castle looks like it belongs in Versailles rather than Scotland. With fairytale spires and immaculate 19th century formal gardens, the castle is the largest in the Northern Highlands and one of Britain’s oldest continuously occupied houses. It dates back to the early 1300s and has previously been used as both a boarding school and a naval hospital during the First World War. The ancestral home of the Earls of Sutherland, the majestic castle now houses a museum and superb art collection in its grand rooms, while visitors can watch a falconry display in its pristine grounds.

3. Island paradise: Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey

Llanddwyn Island in Anglesey with a few of the lighthouse

Getty Images

Be sure to know the tide times to avoid being cut off when you visit magical Llanddwyn Island, along the sand from Anglesey’s Newborough Forest – not far from the Holyhead port. This Welsh beauty spot is certainly worth the risk, with wild ponies grazing alongside coastal paths, empty beaches overlooking the mountains of Llŷn Peninsula and a 19th century lighthouse with views of mighty Snowdonia. Look closely and you might even spot seals and dolphins ducking between the waves.

4. Sunny roof garden: Goodness Gracious, Liverpool

A view from the rooftop over Liverpool from Oh Me Oh My

Oh Me Oh My

At the first glimpse of sun in Liverpool, head straight to the eighth floor of West Africa House to enjoy the most captivating views of the city with an ice-cold drink in hand. The secret garden of the Oh Me Oh My café, Goodness Gracious only opens in good weather between March and October but its airy, plant-filled space and decked terrace commands panoramic views of the city skyline, the iconic Royal Liver Building and Mersey Ferries crossing the waterfront beyond.

5. Secret swimming spot: Venus Pool, Guernsey

A view over Venus Pool in Guernsey

Alamy

One of the most unique places to visit in the UK is the blissful natural rock pool off Lihou Island near Guernsey. Lihou can only be reached by walking across the seabed on a cobbled causeway, revealed only at low tide, and is a bird-watcher’s paradise, with over 150 species known to live on the island. Pass the ruined priory and walk to the very end of the island for a swim in Venus Pool, the serene sheltered rock pool deep enough for a swim you will never forget. If the weather (or tides) aren’t on your side, hear even more of Guernsey’s secrets on a Princess shore excursion of St. Peter Port instead, where you’ll learn the island’s fascinating pirate past.

6. Fascinating glimpse into history: Secret Wartime Tunnels, Dover

People walking through underground tunnels at Dover Castle that include a historic hospital mock up

English Heritage

The white cliffs might get all the attention, but Dover has a much more intriguing attraction hidden out of sight. Deep inside the cliffs below Dover Castle are a labyrinth of tunnels first excavated during the Napoleonic Wars and later made a command centre and military hospital by Winston Churchill during World War II. Now one of the most unique places to visit in Britain, the eerie tunnels are open for visitors to discover the story behind Operation Dynamo, a crucial wartime mission directed from here to evacuate soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk.

7. Secluded beach: Bosahan beach, Cornwall

Beautiful Bosahan Cove in Cornwall

Cornwall Beaches

Everyone knows Cornwall’s stunning coastline, famous for its wide sandy beaches and crashing waves. But the tiny Bosahan beach is a well-kept Cornish secret, tucked away on the banks of the Helford river rather than the sea and reached only through a shaded woodland walk, not far from port in Falmouth. Pop into a local market and grab a few nibbles to enjoy as you soak up the sun and enjoy the tranquillity – there's a good chance you’ll have the sand all to yourself. Afterwards, visit the exotic gardens at nearby Bosahan estate (open summer weekdays only), a little-known but delightful alternative to Cornwall’s ever-busy Eden Project.

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About the Author

Siobhan Grogan

Siobhan Grogan

Siobhan is a travel, music and lifestyle journalist who has written for publications including NME, Harper’s Bazaar, British Airway’s High Life, Grazia, City AM and the Evening Standard. She is constantly searching out new destinations to explore, but loves returning to Sydney, New York and Italy.